Weekend Forecast for November 19-21, 2010

By Reagen Sulewski

November 19, 2010

The Potter crew is horrified that the money train is coming to a stop.

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That a film is opening up against a Harry Potter film is a bit of a novelty in itself. In past years, studios have mostly left it alone on its opening weekends – the most significant film to open against one was Walk the Line – in large part due to the huge crossover demographics the Potter films hit. I'm a firm disbeliever in the notion of competition on opening weekends except in the notion of awareness – it's hard for smaller films to stick their head above the noise of an ad blitz like Potter's. That's probably secondary here to the fact that for the last few years, no one's really wanted to see Russell Crowe's films.

Robin Hood was one of the costliest flops of the summer 2010, while late 2008/early 2009 saw two of his thrillers (Body of Lies and State of Play) debut to an overall feeling of “meh”, wrapping up under $40 million total. While American Gangster wasn't that long ago, most of that $130 million can really be attributed to Denzel Washington. It's the two failed thrillers that draw the closest comparison here, especially since The Next Three Days hasn't done an especially good job of selling its “everyman-against-the-system” angle. Look for about a $10 million opening weekend here.

Megamind earned a repeat at the top of the box office last weekend with a $29 million performance, and $88 million in the bank. One of the true demonstrated victims of competition was in exactly this position nine years ago, however - Monsters, Inc. took a 50% dive in its third weekend against the opening weekend of the first Harry Potter film after dropping less than a third in its second. And Megamind is no Pixar film. It's possible the effect will be less pronounced here since we're dealing with a smaller initial number – fewer people are left to make the choice between the two films – but I expect to take a significant hit, to around $16 million.

Unstoppable won the battle of new releases last weekend, opening to a little over $22 million, a remarkably consistent number for a Denzel Washington/Tony Scott film. A straight-ahead (literally) action thriller about a runaway train, it seems well-positioned to have a solid run. Several unpretentious crowd-pleasing action films have enjoyed better than expected legs of late, the most recent example being Red, which is somehow going to earn $90 million after a $21 million start. That seems like a noble number for Unstoppable to shoot for, starting with $14 million this weekend.


By contrast to some of those leggy films, Due Date cratered in its second weekend, dropping by more than 50% after a hot start of $32 million. While there had been some positive reviews for the film, the early word-of-mouth has been too negative to overcome and this looks to go down in the Todd Phillips oeuvre as an overall miss. Look for it to fall again to around $8 million.

While Skyline's $11 million was still enough to earn back its meager production budget, it's one of those results that's still a bit head-scratching. Although it essentially amounts to an FX demo-reel, that's kind of the same thing that could be said for a lot of sci-fi films these days. Perhaps it was the presence of no actual actors that anyone recognized that scared people off – or perhaps our bullshit dectectors have gotten better. In any case, the “Cloverfield, but somehow more amateurishly-shot” premise didn't hook people to any significant degree, and the film is already starting to go down in cinema lore for its howler of an ending. Expect this to fall off the map completely to around $4 million, with $25 million as an optimistic end total.

Morning Glory also underwhelmed with a $9 million opening weekend and a $12 million five-day total. The romantic comedy starring Rachel McAdams and Patrick Wilson, with special comedy sideshow from Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, seemed to suffer from the same problem as a lot of films out this year that have relied of moderate star power – not being unique or special enough to inspire people to spend their cash on it. Audiences seem to be getting pickier about their films but really supporting those that they get behind with word-of-mouth. Morning Glory shouldn't suffer too badly – it's just bland, not bad – but will still drop to around $5 million.

Forecast: Weekend of November 18-20, 2010
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 4,125 New 111.1
2 Megamind 3,779 -170 16.4
3 Unstoppable 3,207 0 13.4
4 The Next Three Days 2,564 New 10.6
5 Due Date 3,229 -136 8.4
6 Morning Glory 2,544 +26 5.5
7 Skyline 2,882 +2 4.2
8 For Colored Girls 1,216 -911 3.1
9 Red 2,034 -844 3.0
10 Fair Game 386 +211 1.8

Continued:       1       2



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